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Children's & Family Software Review:    Encarta 2005 Reference Library Premium CD/(Includes Encyclopedia Deluxe)



Computer Encyclopedia Software Review: Microsoft Encarta 2005 Reference Library Premium CD

For Windows 98/2000/Professional SP3/Me/XP

By Microsoft

Released: 2004

Reviewed: July 2004

Our Recommended Age: 7-up

Our Rating: A+







Buy: Microsoft Encarta Reference Library Premium 2005 CD or Microsoft Encarta Reference Library Premium 2005 DVD


Also Available:


Microsoft Encarta Deluxe 2005 If you only want the encyclopedia, this is a more economical choice. This software is included in the Reference Library Premium product reviewed here.


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We have been thrilled with the Encarta Encyclopedia for years, and with the 2005 edition, bowled over. Now including a new feature, Encarta Kids, this Reference Library is dazzling, useful, and engaging for all members of the family.

With Microsoft Encarta Reference Library Premium 2005, parents can feel confident that their children and teens are finding relevant, authoritative information for their projects and general knowledge. And, parents can of course rely on the suite as well! 

New to 2005 is an innovative feature: Encarta Kids. Encarta Kids is new content designed from the ground up with the specific needs of a younger audience in mind, including children as young as seven! Bolder, larger text, easier-to-read articles, and relevant elementary-age content makes this feature both inviting and educationally useful for children ages 7 to 12. Encarta Kids runs as a separate application, but if there are no search results in the program, a link is offered to search in Encarta Reference Library.

In addition to this new feature for children, the latest edition of Encarta includes a new Encarta Search Bar. By right-clicking on the time in the System Tray, and selecting the search bar from the Toolbar, users can begin a search at any time. New online Homework Helpers allow users with an Internet connection to get up-to-date help with, for example, math homework.

As well, the features that made previous editions outstanding are all here as well, such as the Discovery Channel videos (with topics like Bird Evolution and Life on Mars?), Dictionary and Thesaurus (including translation dictionaries), interactive games (including a geography challenge pictured at left), Homework Center, outstanding interactive Atlas, and more. 

The CD-ROM edition includes 5 CDs. If you have the space, the program can be installed to your hard drive for easy access. It requires almost two and half gigs. The DVD-ROM edition, of course, is easier to use because it is contained on only one disc.

This suite truly makes a wonderful research "companion". Articles contain encyclopedia information, of course, as well as extras like a "web center" box with links to Encarta editors' hand-picked online links. A search for a particular city will offer regional news, current temperatures, dynamic atlas, and so forth.

One of the features of the Encarta Encyclopedia series that makes it stand out from the rest is its vibrant, current, and contemporary content. Free content updates are available until October 2005 (a sign-up process is involved), after which users must be a paying member of Club Encarta.

Beautiful to look at, filled with multimedia and helpful content, and easy to use, this reference library will help make any family's research efforts easier. The search feature is fabulous, with content from all titles in the suite seamlessly integrated together. Streaming live media and easy content updates (they're automatic) contribute to an exceptional product that feels alive and fresh.

Searching in Encarta is easy. One search pulls up articles, maps, multimedia content, and more. In fact, as you type in your keyword, lists of results begin to appear and adjust as you keep typing. This is very handy for times when you don't know the complete spelling of a word. Alternate spellings also pop up for extra help.

When students stumble upon a word in an article that they don't understand, they need only double-click on it and a dictionary entry pops up. Doing research for a school project is especially easy with this suite. Children can select any text and images from Encarta contents or the Internet, click "Add to Researcher", and the information is cataloged and stored. Researcher allows users to organize and edit the information they've collected ("note cards" can be clicked and dragged for easy organizing), and then export their work to a Word document. Citations are automatic with this handy tool. The suite's World Atlas is superior to those found in other leading electronic reference suites. The atlas is dynamic and original. Users can easily customize their view of the world with map styles and customizer tools.

Many children (and adults!) equate encyclopedias with "boring", simply because of the dry, "encyclopedic" presentations. Not so with Encarta. The presentation is slick and modern, and the multimedia content is strong.

The program is available on CD-ROM as well as DVD-ROM (the DVD-ROM edition includes extra videos). 


  • Contemporary, well-integrated suite
  • Rich with multimedia
  • Updatable content (until Oct. 31, 2005) is automatic when users are online
  • Plenty of extras and special features
  • Gorgeous interface
  • New Encarta Kids offers children under 12 excellent, age-appropriate content.



  • None noted.




Our Rating:




[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Microsoft Encarta Reference Library Premium 2005 CD or Microsoft Encarta Reference Library Premium 2005 DVD]




Reviewed July 2004











To Buy this software:

Buy Microsoft Encarta Reference Library Premium 2005 CD or Microsoft Encarta Reference Library Premium 2005 DVDat

Buy Microsoft Encarta Reference Library... or Microsoft Encarta Reference Library 2005... at


This program is also available in French, which is ideal for school projects done in the French language. To buy the French version: Microsoft Encarta Reference Library... (French CD-ROM) or Microsoft Encarta Reference Library 2005... (French DVD-ROM)


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